Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas found in soils, rock, and water throughout the U.S. Radon causes lung
cancer, and is a threat to health because it tends to collect in homes, sometimes to very high concentrations.
How can radon affect people's health?
Almost all risk from radon comes from breathing air with radon and its decay products. Radon decay products cause
There is no safe level of radon -- any exposure poses some risk of cancer. In two 1999 reports, the National Academy
of Sciences (NAS) concluded after an exhaustive review that radon in indoor air is the second leading cause of lung cancer
in the U.S. after cigarette smoking. The NAS estimated that 15,000-22,000 Americans die every year from radon-related lung
How do I know if there is radon in my home?
You cannot see, feel, smell, or taste radon. Testing your home is the only way to know if you and your family are
at risk from radon. EPA and the Surgeon General recommend testing for radon in all rooms below the third floor.
Radon testing is inexpensive and easy--it should only take a few minutes of your time. Millions of Americans have
already tested their homes for radon. Various low-cost, do-it-yourself test kits are available through the mail and in hardware
stores and other retail outlets. You can also hire a trained contractor to do the testing for you.
What can I do to protect myself and my family from radon?
The first step is to test your home for radon, and have it fixed if it is at or above EPA's Action Level of 4 picocuries
per liter. You may want to take action if the levels are in the range of 2-4 picocuries per liter. Generally, levels can be
brought below 2 pCi/l fairly simply.
The best method for reducing radon in your home will depend on how radon enters your home and the design of your
home. For example, sealing cracks in floors and walls may help to reduce radon. There are also systems that remove radon from
the crawl space or from beneath the concrete floor or basement slab that are effective at keeping radon from entering your
home. These systems are simple and don't require major changes to your home. Other methods may be necessary.
People who have private wells should test their well water to ensure that radon levels meet EPA's newly proposed
The above information is provided as a public service by the Environmental
Protection Agency for educational purposes.